NASCAR Betting Guide: Busch Clash

Ryan Blaney has flexed muscle at Daytona in the past and enters the Busch Clash at +1300 to win. Which other drivers present betting value in the Cup Series' opening exhibition?

In most sports, All-Star events are pretty dull.

They often take place in the middle of the season when players are simply trying not to get hurt. And who could blame them? Why risk your body and finances in something as meaningless as an exhibition?

NASCAR doesn't roll like that. They put a whole lotta cash on the line, take away the over-arching incentive to rack up season-long points, and let drivers have at it. It's basically a 200-mile-per-hour cash grab, and we're all better for it.

This should make betting on the event a whole lot easier (relative to other All-Star-esque events) because we know each driver is going to put out maximum effort. And FanDuel Sportsbook has odds posted for who will take the checkered flag.

It's just a 75-lap, 18-driver field, so the odds are definitely going to look a bit different than they would with additional drivers on the track. But who stands out as a profitable investment for Sunday? Let's check it out.

Kyle Busch (+1100)

Right now, my model has a cluster of three drivers in a tier at the top. Joey Logano (+800) is the top driver there, but he also has the shortest odds in the entire field. Kyle Busch is third (more on the driver in second shortly), making him an intriguing option for Sunday.

Daytona has never been Busch's best track with just one regular season win on his ledger there across his career. He does, however, have a 2012 win in the Busch Clash and three career wins in Daytona 500 qualifying races, so he can wheel his way around this joint. You also know the equipment is up to the task with Joe Gibbs Racing having won two of the past three Daytona regular-season races with Denny Hamlin (+850) and Erik Jones (+2200).

Busch was in a good position during last year's Clash, running in fourth place with 20 laps to go. Then he got caught up in a wreck not of his own doing.

He's definitely capable of winning one of these races again. It's certainly not his strongest track, but the odds seem to account for that, so Busch looks like a solid option at +1100.

Ryan Blaney (+1300)

The other guy in that group of three at the top of my model is Logano's teammate, Ryan Blaney. Penske cars tend to dominate on this track type, and Blaney gives us access to that stable with favorable odds at +1300.

Unlike with Busch, Daytona does tend to be a plus track for Blaney. He won his qualifying race here in 2018, has finished fourth in each of the past two Clash races, and is a former runner-up in the 500 itself.

The other big perk of Blaney is that he has proven he can win while in the new aero package on a pack-racing track. He did that in Talladega last year, one of three races to use the package that will be in place this weekend. He'll have both Logano and Brad Keselowski (+850) for drafting help in the race, so a lot of signs point to Blaney as being a legit contender this weekend.

Alex Bowman (+1800)

Whenever the NASCAR Cup Series goes to a pack-racing track, you know Hendrick Motorsports is going to have some ponies under the hood. Even in a chaotic race, that still matters, making Alex Bowman interesting at +1800.

Bowman is similar to Blaney in that he has proven himself in this new rules package on a pack-racing track. He did that in finishing second in the spring Talladega race, right behind his teammate, Chase Elliott (+1100). Then the Hendrick cars of William Byron (+1800) and Jimmie Johnson (+1800) finished second and third, respectively, in the summer Daytona race, so it seems pretty clear the team has a handle on this setup.

In Bowman's two career Clash races, he has a pair of top-five finishes, and we know he'll have the lethal combination of speed and help from teammates. You could consider the other Hendrick options in Elliott, Byron, and Johnson, but Bowman is the one who seems to stand out most among those with longer odds.

Erik Jones (+2200)

If you paid attention to NASCAR last year, you know that Erik Jones is a volatile dude. He had a month-long stretch where he either won or finished outside the top 35 in each race. He's the closest thing to a real-life Ricky Bobby.

Volatility is awesome in betting. And when you can get someone as volatile as Jones at +2200 to win in an 18-driver field, it's hard not to bite.

You're getting Jones at this number even though he is actually a past Daytona winner, accomplishing that in the July 2018 race.

Usually, a recent win is a kiss of death from an odds perspective, ensuring you won't get that guy as a value for the foreseeable future. Here, we're seeing an exception to that.

Jones enters the Clash with the third-longest odds in the entire field, likely due to the wild levels of volatility. But he has proven -- both at this track and others -- that he can hit the high end of that range of outcomes, making him a longshot who actually has a chance to come through.